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McDonald's Woos Parents With Books in Happy Meals

A million books is still a million cheeseburgers

McDonalds giving away books with Happy Meals |

You've got to hand it to McDonald's. Their marketing team is genius. To get families through the golden arches, the most popular fast food chain first created the Happy Meal, imbibing kids with a toy.

Now, to coincide with Valentine's day, McD's is imbibing parents by supplying books as part of the Happy Meal. Because literacy is so important, and what parent wouldn't be all over the idea of a free kids book (especially in a country where, let's face it, the cost of even children's books is prohibitive.)  

“We’ve tied it into Valentine’s day, a time where kids have a lot of fun, so each of the books has fun little Valentine’s cards and stickers,” says senior national marketing manager at McDonald’s, Michelle McIlmoyle. “It just adds to the overall experience that reading is fun.”

Kids will receive one of four books as part of the meals:

  • “Paddington” by Michael Bond
  • “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse!” by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond
  • “Clark the Shark Takes Heart” by Bruce Hale
  • “Pete the Cat Valentine’s Day is Cool” by Kimberly and James Dean

The initiative is not new; McDonald's rolled out the literacy gifting back in 2013. During that period, McIlmoyle claims McD's has given out "close five million books." Five million. 

From 2 through 15 February this year, McD's estimates it will dole out a further 1.5 million books.

That's pretty incredible, it has to be said. But let's not lose sight of the fact that those 1.5 million books also equate to 1.5 million chicken nuggets or cheeseburgers...

Early reading is vital, and McDonald's knows it. Over the years, the chain has faced lots of flak by consumers for the nutritional content of Happy Meals. 

To be fair, McD's can't seem to win with parents. Though the company attempted to provide healthier options, such as apple slices and milk cartons, as few as one to four percent of parents follow through and actually order them for their kids. So you can lead a horse to water...

And with profits dropping, McDonald's is obviously keen as ever to court families. 

Personally, I don't think McDonald's is the devil, nor am I as a mom for taking him there. After all, we don't live on the stuff. I take my son once or twice a year - tops - and he does order the apples (without the caramel sauce). 

Everything in moderation. Except for reading, that is.

 RELATED: Ways to Get Kids Reading